Competition is doing whatever you can to gain an edge or keep ahead of rivals. The very nature of competition is to be the best. Every brand wants to be the best at what they’re doing, but if the focus shifts from customers to competitors, trouble could ensue.
Here are a few companies that focus on their customers instead of the competition and why:
Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had the following exchange with a customer on Twitter:
For starters, Musk answered the tweet in an incredibly timely fashion. A CEO of a company of this caliber likely has every minute of the day scheduled out. What Musk does, however, is take time out of his day to engage with customers.
Next, Musk humbly engages. He recognizes the validity of the customer’s request, which shows he isn’t about what his competitors are doing or even his own agenda, but he wants his brand to be about what’s best for his customers.
Musk ends his tweet by letting the customer know he is going to fix the issue as soon as he can. Once again, he doesn’t look to see what other companies are doing, but knows what his company is capable of doing and does it for the sake of customers.
In his most recent letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, explained his concept of “Day 1,” stating, “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
He explains while there are a lot of ways to center a business, being customer-focused is the most effective. His philosophy is customers are always on the search for something better. Through this mindset, he was able to create the Prime membership program. Customers never asked for this, yet it has been widely adopted. Because of his “customer first” approach, Bezos is able to know the needs of his customers before they even know them. Considering Amazon is in hot pursuit of being the first trillion-dollar company, it’s safe to say Bezos doesn’t even need to glance at his competitors.
In its customer quotient (CQ) study, Harvard Business Review studies what attracts consumers to a brand. The study measures what customers respect in a brand including openness, relevance, empathy, experience, and emotion. A large takeaway from this study is that customers “respect companies that they believe respect them in return.” According to the CQ, the brand that does the best job of this is REI.
When the company launched its “#OptOutside” campaign and closed its doors on Black Friday, they invited customers into a space the brand knew they cared about: the outdoors. While this may have appeared to be a poor move because competitors’ doors stayed open, REI knew what their customers desired and spearheaded a movement that supported it. In turn, this strategic marketing tactic resulted in a 9.3% increase in revenue to $2.4 billion.
It’s no coincidence these brands are hugely successful. They engage in practices that benefit their customers, not practices that try to squash their competition. The next time there is a temptation to look to the left or right at competitors, look at the customer in front of you instead.
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